If we were all to flash forward to the end of our lives, what would we see?
It’s the end of our journey here on Earth and we are lying on our deathbed with only a handful of waking, human breaths left. As we look up, our eyes meet those of the loved ones standing around our bedside.
We start to reflect on the events, people and circumstances that have led us to the point where the number of beats our heart has left can be counted on a single hand. The point where our lungs are experiencing their last intake of oxygen.
What is it that comes to our minds in these last waking moments?
Will we be thinking about the hours spent in the office or the moments we were able to gaze deeply into the eyes of those we love? Will we dream about the money we were able to accumulate or smile at the times our significant other made us laugh until our stomachs ached with happiness?
Will the big houses we lived in ring a bell in our memory or will we remember the spontaneous road trip with our closest friends that summer long ago? What about our clothes, shoes and accessories? Will those flash into our minds, or instead, will we recall the times we were able to contribute to someone in need?
Lately, my education, job and the overall direction in which my life was going have all been in question—and still are for that matter. For someone who does not adapt well to difficult decisions and change, this has not been easy. I have caught myself spending countless hours in the day feeling anxious about what’s to come. I knew it was time for a perspective change, a different way of looking at these turning points, but I did not know how to go about this. I was stuck.
Until one day, a whole new way of looking at these decisions dawned on me: the deathbed perspective.
The point of view of a person who has little to no time left in this world. The thoughts of a person whose opportunities have already come and gone. It kept flashing into my head, time and time again. If I was lying on that bed, which decisions would I be pleased with? Which ones would I regret? Would any of the things I’m feeling anxious about even be relevant?
I pondered this idea for quite some time until I finally decided to do a bit of experimenting. Every time I’m faced with a decision I think to be difficult, I choose to pause for a brief moment. I flash forward to myself on my own deathbed, looking backwards—a time when I know that the only thing on my mind will be the experiences that brought me the utmost exhilaration.
It’s in this moment that a strong feeling of clarity seeps through my body, as if it has been there all along, waiting for me to let it run its course. I suddenly know exactly what I need to do. And I choose to make the decision that will ultimately lead me to a feeling of ecstasy. And if neither of my choices will lead me to this feeling, then I create a new option or a whole new path. I chose the path that will allow me to feel free, adventurous and brave.
What I do not chose is the decision I know in my heart will ultimately lead to regret and despair. I will most certainly not look back at the path I chose knowing that the only reason I chose it was because it was the normal path, according to society.
Because in our last moments, we will think not of the amount of times we made decisions based on fear or expectations. We will instead remember the treasured memories, laughter and people by our sides.
“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.” ~ Steve Jobs
Author: Natalie Lucci
Editor: Nicole Cameron